Japanese right-hander Shohei Otani announced back in October that he was planning to break tradition and jump from his high school (Hanamaki East) right to the professional ranks in the United States, skipping a career in Nippon Professional Baseball altogether. But it’s not going to happen.
According to Japanese reporter Yasuko Yanagita, Otani has decided to remain in his native country for the foreseeable future. He was selected in the first round of the NPB Draft less than two months ago by the Nippon-Ham Fighters and accepted an offer Sunday to suit up for them in 2013.
Otani drew serious interest over the last few months from big spenders like the Dodgers, Rangers and Red Sox, but the pressure to take the more customary route for a Japanese pitcher apparently weighed on him.
Otani, 18, is a 6-foot-4 starting pitching prospect. His fastball has already been clocked in the triple digits.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.